Organizations of all sizes face an evolving challenge to adapt to a dynamic business landscape in which key business and IT functions are no longer siloed and are increasingly interdependent. Such organizations often adopt a business plan with a strategy to hire individuals for ambiguous roles that merge the demands of the business with the technology resources to deliver the solutions needed to meet them. One of the key agents to help these organizations navigate these muddy waters is the business analyst (BA).
While there is no singular definition of a BA’s job description, there are some skill sets that are generally regarded as helpful in making a successful business analyst.
1. Communication Skills
Usually a liaison between business and technology teams, BAs often spend a lot of their time communicating requirements to different stakeholders. The value of having strong communication skills–-both verbally and in writing–cannot be overstated. Miscommunication in communicating and documenting project requirements often result in failure points for a project. Having the ability to “tell a story” about the data to business stakeholders and documenting the translation of business requirements into technical process steps for developers are among the most valuable skill sets a business analyst can hold.
2. Flexibility and Adaptability
Depending on the organization, a BA’s job description could extend them to other areas of the company that needs business analysis support. This could mean being a systems analyst, management consultant, business architect, enterprise analyst, or more. As a business analyst, you may need to get involved in all levels of the organization, and being able to self-manage in this ambiguous setting can go a long way in impressing your client. Highlighting and finessing your versatility may enable them to see your potential to take on different roles in the company as the need arises.
3. Analytical and Critical Thinking Skills
It is no secret that a business analyst’s role is primarily based on their analytical ability to interpret business demands and help create executable process steps. Analyzing data, evaluating surveys and reports, as well as determining solutions for a particular business case, all fall under the umbrella of analytical thinking skills.
4. Technical Skills
Often being a bridge between business and technical stakeholders, BAs with technical skills are highly valued and sought after on many project teams. In this area, a successful business analyst will have the flexibility to apply knowledge of software tools to present data to different audiences. For business stakeholders, that could mean presenting data on MS Excel spreadsheets or business process flowcharts on Microsoft Visio. For a technical audience such as developers, that may mean querying a SQL database to identify a field parameter to use as an example for a code bug that needs to be fixed. A business analysts who is confident and enthusiastic about maintaining their technical repertoire of skill sets will continue to be highly valued by their project teams and clients.
5. Persuasion and Negotiation Skills
As a liaison among the stakeholders, users, developers, management and IT staff, the business analyst can help the project manager maintain a balance between the business needs and individual wants of each personality type. A strong PM/BA partnership is crucial for the success of a project, and a BA can have a special role to bridge a gap between business and technical stakeholders. Having the ability to build strong relationships, establish trust among team members and a healthy layer of thick skin are all helpful skills in building cohesiveness on a project team.
Adopting these core skills will help in furthering your career as a business analyst. Start applying these habits today and you should find that the value you create through them will have a positive impact on your project teams.
If you’d like to learn more about business analysts and what they can do for your company, please reach out to me directly to continue the conversation: email@example.com